Lack of awareness about environmental issues is widespread in Kosovo. Plastic bags and other waste are often indiscriminately thrown away, polluting soil, rivers and underground water. UN Volunteers are helping to draw attention to these problems and encouraging more environmentally-friendly habits among citizens.
Lack of awareness about environmental issues is widespread in Kosovo. Plastic bags and other waste are often indiscriminately thrown away, polluting soil, rivers and underground water. Thousands of plastic bags are distributed every day in supermarkets and shops, further increasing potential damage to the environment. UN Volunteers are helping to draw attention to these problems and encouraging more environmentally-friendly habits among citizens. In order to raise peoples awareness of environmental issues and to encourage eco-friendly practices, four UN Volunteers organized an event with the slogan I love Clean Kosovo, in partnership with a local NGO, The Ideas Partnership. Implemented by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the event took place during World Environment Day 2011 in Germia Park, a popular destination among Pristina citizens for nature walking and hiking just outside the city. The volunteers distributed 500 leaflets in three languages English, Albanian and Serbian with a list of practical and simple tips for saving water and electricity, responsible littering and recycling. The volunteers were pro-active in approaching people and explaining the information of the leaflets. Other materials were distributed, including the UNDP green newsletter, articles about ecological issues from the Prishtina Insight, and leaflets produced by a local NGO dealing with recycling. An interactive activity was organized in order to encourage the use of cloth bags instead of plastic bags. Around 200 cloth bags were distributed with the slogan I love Clean Kosovo, and children were invited to draw on the bags, while volunteers explained the environmental benefits of using cloth over plastic. Children were eager to draw on and wear their own bag, and parents provided the volunteers with positive feedback on the initiative. Body and face painting activities, as well as an origami workshop were also organized for the children, with skilled volunteer teaching participants how to transform simple scrap paper into decorative shapes. The aim of the workshop was to put into practice the slogan Reduce-Reuse-Recycle by highlighting the potential of creativity in recycling old newspaper. A space was also dedicated to a photo exhibition consisting of pictures collected by The Ideas Partnership through a competition launched on Facebook. Each participant uploaded two photographs, one representing clean Kosovo and the other illustrating the problem of littering or pollution in the country. The winner of the competition received a camera sponsored by the UNICEF Innovation Lab. The event resonated positively with the public and the media, enjoying wide media coverage and featuring as the evening headline news on a national TV station. The campaign was considered a success both by participants and organizers, and it could easily be replicated in other areas of Kosovo or in different countries. UN Volunteers play a key role in helping to raise environmental awareness amongst communities and to develop more sustainable lifestyles.